caribbean queen: charlotte amalie

IMG_6957-1.jpeg

Charlotte Amalie is the capital of the US Virgin Islands and is located on St. Thomas, the second largest island of the USVI.  Known for its history of attracting pirates and other colorful characters, St. Thomas is now one of the most popular cruise ship destinations of the region.  And it’s no wonder, there’s gorgeous white sand beaches, renowned bays, natural wonders, and of course, treasures to be found in duty free shopping.

It seems like there are more jewelry and perfume stores on this island than people to buy them, which is why I guess it’s good that there are up to 11 (!) cruise ships stopping daily filling the streets with tourists and potential money spenders.

Despite that fact, I highly recommend staying longer.  There’s so much to see and do in the region that a few hours doesn’t do it justice.  There are many Airbnbs and resorts across the whole island, so why not enjoy more R&R here, where time runs a little more languid?  Everyone loves an island vacation, and spending a week here was just what this doctor ordered.  And the best part is that it’s all in our own backyard, negating the need of a passport or a change in your cell phone plan.

be like the pina colada song, come with me and escape

Continue reading

historical boston: one minute man

IMG_6062.jpeg

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Although March 17 is synonymous with leprechauns and pots of gold, there’s a secondary celebration in the city of Boston, MA known as Evacuation Day.  This day commemorates the retreat of British troops from the city in 1776 after the Siege of Boston, or the start of the Revolutionary War.  So while you don your shamrocks and drink your green beer, pour one out for those who fought for our freedom to exist as our own nation.

If you’ve read this blog for a while, I think you may be able to tell that I’m a little bit of a nerd.  And I’m proud of it, I like reading, learning things and knowing about history.  And so, traveling around this vast country, I am fascinated by the communities that played vital roles in fabric of American creation and evolution.  We’re not an old country comparatively, but we’re rife with important figures and events.  We have a lot of museums and monuments to preserve this culture (some of it not great but it’s probably important to be familiar with that, too), and these are tools to promote lifelong learning.

Boston is chock full of Revolutionary War history, as the seat of some of the most famous protests and uprisings like Boston Tea Party, Boston Massacre, Paul Revere’s house, and the aforementioned Siege of Boston.  I’ve been through all these sites in the city proper, but on a road trip back into town from the Berkshires, had a chance to visit the outer lying areas where the actual sh*t happened.

Sorry for the language, but when in Boston…

Continue reading

i believe in nashville

IMG_0331

The hits keep coming, don’t they?  While the world was reeling from the COVID-19 effects, my beloved former home of Nashville suffered one of the most devastating tornadoes in recent past.  Fortunately for me, my friends and colleagues are okay, but there are so many people who were not as lucky.  The scenes of the utter destruction, splintered buildings, razed businesses that were once so lively and vital to this town are heartbreaking.

If there’s something I know about the city of Nashville, it’s that it is resilient.  When I moved there in 2014, they had near completely recouped from the horrible floods in 2010.  I know the community will come together and rebuild and be back better than ever.  If you can, consider donating to cmft.org.

Until then, I believe in you Nashville, and here’s my little love letter to you

Continue reading

laissez les bon temps rouler

IMG_8134

there is a house in new orleans, they call the rising sun

Well now that the Super Bowl has been won by Kansas City (GO CHIEFS), we can all move on with our lives, and move onto the next party. This is Mardi Gras of course!

Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday is February 25 this year.  This is the Carnival celebration that starts after Three Kings Day and ends the day before Ash Wednesday.  For us non-Christians, this day refers to eating rich, fatty foods before Lent fasting begins.  No one throws a party like the Crescent City, and this bonanza of a holiday is the grandest boum of them all.  No one throws a soiree like New Orleans.

Laissez les bon temps rouler…

Continue reading

super bowl vice city

IMG_9229.jpeg

south beach bringing the heat

I had every intention of writing a new blog post on Sunday to post today.  That did not happen as I spent the day devastated over the news of Kobe Bryant’s tragic death.   Kobe was one of my childhood idols, as a kid who grew up in Southern California, he was everything.  The greatest Laker to have ever played.  An icon who was more magic than Magic even.  Kobe Shaq early 2000s was the most dominating Little Big duo of all time, and I’ve had many great memories watching those games and championships.

We broke down all the games, bought the jerseys, reveled in the parades.  I always imagined Kobe as an elder NBA statesman, ushering in young talent of the league, he had seemed untouchable and invincible.  And the unexpectedness is maybe what hurts most, because he had so much ahead of him.  His daughter and the other victims as well.  It’s senseless, it’s so sad and it hurts.  RIP Kobe.

download

Based on Kobe’s philosophy, the Mamba Mentality, he would’ve probably said well, life goes on, let’s get to the next stage.  And that stage happens this weekend in Miami at Super Bowl LIV.  And perhaps that’s what we should do, LIV it up because tomorrow is certainly not guaranteed for any of us.

Welcome to Miami…

Continue reading

happy lunar new year: year of mouse

IMG_8082.jpeg

The Lunar New Year celebration is based on the celestial calendar that is used by several Asian nations (namely China, Vietnam, Korea).  Each cycle of roughly 12 months is represented by one of 12 animals in the zodiac: rat, ox/water buffalo, tiger, rabbit (or cat in Vietnam), dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.

This year is my year, the year of the rat.  I share this distinction with noted creator William Shakespeare and fearless leader George Washington, you may have heard of them.   Folklore tales abound, but there’s thought that the rat was the first to show up to a council of animals that was called forth by the Jade Emperor (after sabotaging the cat and the ox, those cunning little rats), or that the rat won a competition set forth by this leader (also by screwing over the cat by not informing it of the time of the competition).  Whatever the case, the rat is the first animal of the zodiac and is thought to be very clever and observant (and clearly you should watch your back around them).

If you haven’t already bought your ticket to head to Asia for this celebration, which falls on January 25, this year, then you’re probably a little late.  So how better than to celebrate it stateside by going to Disneyland?  One of the most notable festivals dedicated to this holiday happens to be at the Disney Parks.

It’s a big party this year as Disney has taken the liberty to denote this the year of the mouse (that Mickey loves to appropriate things to his benefit, doesn’t he? But, also see the Mickey x Gucci collab because it’s fire).  They did a great job though, as the California Adventure park in Anaheim and the Epcot China Pavilion at Disney World have a ton of pageantry and specialty merch all set up to welcome the new year.

Chuc mung nam moi!

Continue reading

a tale of two afc championship cities

Image result for chiefs vs titans

What do Kansas City & Nashville have in common? Well, they are both cities in which I have lived, and they’re also home to the two teams that will face off in the AFC Championship game this weekend.  It’s very exciting (read: EXCITING OMG HOLY S).  I, of course, am rooting for the Chiefs, as I have been to far more Chiefs games than Titans games, but it would soften the blow of defeat if the Titans pulled off the upset.

I’ve written extensively about these two cities, KC here, here and, here and Nashville here and here (try to visit them in alternating years), and seriously, if you haven’t visited them, where have you been?  Both cities top travel lists of great American destinations, so what are you waiting for?

Chiefs x Titans, a battle for the ages, and a battle for my heart.

Continue reading

the maine event: portland

IMG_5416.jpeg

Happy New Year!  I did not get to post last week because I was out of the country and I definitely locked myself out of the account because of deleting cookies and not trusting public wifi (travel tip: you shouldn’t).  But I’m back and ready to go!  I’m not a big resolutions person (other than drink more water which never happens, coffee is just so much better), but my goals always involve wanting to travel to new places.  I have a few places and experiences on the horizon for 2020, and hopefully you do, too!

And at least I’m one state closer to reaching my 50 states visited now that I’ve been to beautiful Maine.  I was able to road trip from Boston and enjoy a crisp, autumn day with the wind whipping my hair, pretending that I was in a moody novel from the 1800s.

maine line some lobsters with me…

Continue reading

Happy Holidays!

IMG_7702.jpeg

Xmas cheer at DFW

‘Tis the season, hope your holiday travels are going off without a hitch (although by the looks of the weather patterns across the US, eesh probably not).  By now, the holiday travel season is in full swing — I’ve already survived two trips to airports in the past few days, mainly by helping myself to many Diet Cokes from the airport lounges.

IMG_7706.jpeg

the least wonderful travel time of the year at LAX

It’s always a test of patience this time of year, but lines and delays keep you humble and it’s not the airline worker’s fault.  Remember to Airborne, always use sanitizer and that the headrests and tray tables are not typically cleaned well during the turnaround.

This year was the year of the Cs, commencing with Cuba and the Caribbean:

IMG_0186.jpeg

havana ooh na na

coupled with a Canadian autumn…

IMG_4641.jpeg

and culminating in another trip to the Caribbean.

IMG_7233.jpeg

virgin islands national park might be the low-key frontrunner for beautiful parks

Somehow I also fit in quick trips to Las Vegas, KC, Nashville and Indianapolis.

IMG_3184.jpeg

I added Maine to my states visited list (3 left!)…

IMG_5416.jpeg

he’s my lobster

and finally broke my Disney moratorium, traveling to a galaxy, far, far away.

IMG_2679.jpeg

And the best was that I got to see so many friends when they came through my town! I wish I had traveled more this year (I traveled plenty, but I’m greedy), but I do have “a job,” and someone has to “pay the bills.”  Good thing I’ve already planned out a couple of trips already so it should be a full 2020 (will be full of P’s, both literally and hopefully figuratively).

Wishing you a healthy and happy holiday season, and a happy New Year!

 

 

 

know before you go: STT USVI

9D91D650-3E5D-4889-9C73-8B0622E855CF

No, that’s not a bunch of f Roman numerals.  STT is the airport code for Cyril King Airport of St. Thomas, one of the main destinations in the US Virgin Islands.  The busiest airport of the islands, many traveling will use it to hop to nearby St. John and the BVI. If you’re like me, and you have always romanticized jetting down to the islands like some New York socialite wearing a caftan and drinking gimlets whilst perched on a Mortician Adams wicker peacock chair, then wintering in the Caribbean is for you!

I mean, what’s not to love about exchanging frigid temperatures and the stress of the holidays for sandy beaches and margaritas?  Beach hair, don’t care.

STT is a tiny airport with one terminal.  There are flights to and from the US quite frequently during this season on American, Delta, Frontier, United and JetBlue.

Remember: ✈️ = Extra virgin to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ =  If you like pina coladas

Convenience to the city:✈️✈️✈️ (3 miles from Charlotte Amalie, downtown)

Ease of navigating through terminals:  ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (it’s not a big airport)

Convenience of check in/security lines:  ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (Customs check so they recommend getting there at least 3 hours ahead)

Dining:✈️✈️ (free shots when you arrive, but not much else)

Restrooms: ✈️✈️✈️ (Small airport, but a lot of stalls)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️ (free wifi available)

Amenities: ✈️✈️ (Did I mention free shots? Also free tote bags from the downtown jewelry stores.  Verrrrry slow baggage claim, so plan accordingly)